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Monday, 7 November 2011
Page: 8347


Senator BOB BROWN (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (15:55): I thank Senator Faulkner for that very clear and incisive presentation to the Senate on the need for action on climate change. I have very rarely heard it put better.

Senator Kroger: Did you write it for him, Bob?

Senator BOB BROWN: The best that any of the three opposition members—this motion has come from the opposition—and now Senator Kroger can put forward is: did I write it for him? Of course I did not. But I guess Senator Kroger, who is so used to having pieces written for her, has the belief that that is what happens with other people.

Senator Faulkner: I'm not noted for having things written for me.

Senator BOB BROWN: No, Senator Faulkner, you are not noted for having things written for you; you are noted for being your own person.

Senator Bernardi interjecting

Senator BOB BROWN: What I do note here is that this is a matter from Senator Bernardi and, unless the speakers list that we have before us is incorrect, he is not speaking on it.

What I want to say in the few minutes I have—and Senator Milne will be adding to this later—is that it is very easy to get passionate about which party opposes or supports another party in this place, but the thing that is relevant is how well the progress of legislation in the interests of the wider Australian public is going. What we do know is that now well in excess of 120 bills have passed the parliament in a bit over a year that this government has been in place, and that is quite a remarkable record considering the rate of bills that went through the parliament back in even the Howard years.

One of the bills that went through before this parliament came here was the stimulus package, and that kept Australia out of recession; it saved 200,000 Australians' jobs and many small businesses from closure. There was a case of the Greens supporting the Labor initiative—the initiative of Treasurer Swan at the time—after it became clear that this opposition, this Liberal-National Party coalition, was going to oppose the legislation, with all the terrible consequences for business and for jobs in this country.

Sometimes it turns around and there are some Greens initiatives that are put forward which are taken up by government—although rarely is it that any of these things come out of the blue and do not have support in parties in varying degrees when their time has come. Senator Bernardi gets excited about that, although not to the point of speaking on his own matter.

There are a number of pieces of legislation which we disagree with the government on. I want to point that out. First of all, there is the minerals super profits tax, which was recommended by Treasury, and the Greens supported it. The government, under the influence of the big mining corporations, has come up with an alternative which is going to fail to recoup $60 billion to $100 billion over the next 10 years. That is that much money that will not be available for schools or hospitals or transport—high-speed rail included—or housing. However, the opposition is going to collect nothing at all. Mr Abbott has made it clear that he would not entertain any sort of tax and in fact would rescind the tax if it were passed. That matter is being dealt with in the House of Representatives at the moment. The Greens have proposed a five per cent tax reduction for small business, because we can fund it—unlike the opposition. We have shown how we would fund that, but that is opposed by the opposition as well as the Labor Party. I asked questions earlier today about the withdrawal of our courageous troops from Afghanistan, as the Netherlands and Canada have withdrawn their troops. That is opposed by the government and it is also opposed by the opposition, although the latest poll shows it has huge popular support in Australia among Greens-inclined voters, Labor voters and Liberal and National voters. I think it is time adequate debate and serious consideration are given to withdrawing our troops from Afghanistan. Here is a situation where Senator Bernardi and the opposition are in lock step with the Labor government.

Equal marriage, junk food advertising and having a deposit on beverage containers nationally: these are issues where we see the government and the opposition together but the Greens taking the lead. We are proud of taking that lead and we are proud of the input we are having to this parliament. (Time expired)